If you remember one data point this week, we’d love it to be this one: As POLITICO’s “Morning Pulse” reported yesterday, health-care prices continue to grow at “amazingly low” rates. In fact, “year-over-year health care price growth was 1.5 percent, lagging the Consumer Price Index (which grew 2.0 percent).”
Why are prices growing so slowly? “Low drug-price growth.”
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Patrick O’Connor – Executive Director
Rosemarie Calabro Tully – Communications Director
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
Today’s @POLITICOPulse highlights new findings by @Altarum: “Health care prices continue to grow at ‘amazingly low’ rates ... driven by low #drugprice growth. ... It’s a positive sign for efforts to bend the #healthcare cost curve.” https://www.politico.com/politicopulse/ Click here to RT.
The private sector of the US is really the only entity in the world that's willing to take the massive risks of bringing breakthrough solutions to market. - @sjezell on the importance of US #innovation in providing new #drugs to #patients @OversightDems #DrugPricing hearing Click here to RT.
Some #patients are paying higher out-of-pocket costs because insurance companies and #PBMs are forcing them to shoulder a greater share of their health-care spending. Since 2006, deductibles have skyrocketed by 300%. Learn more here: https://protectmedicine.com/innovation/ #DrugPrices Click here to RT.
THE STORIES THAT DIDN’T GET ENOUGH ATTENTION
The History And Future Of Vaccines. A Research America survey found 92 percent of Americans feel vaccines are important to the health of our society. And, clearly, they are. As Merck & Co. increases production of its measles-mumps-rubella vaccine to address the country’s largest measles outbreak in 25 years, it is worth contemplating how vaccines improved our general health and welfare in the 20th century. (It’s also worth considering because, as Gene Quinn of IPWatchdog notes in a new post, current drug-pricing proposals could erode money available for vaccine research and development.) Read the full blog post here.
In case you missed them, here are some other recent posts on the APMI blog:
WHAT WE’RE READING
New Antibiotics: “Nobody’s Lining Up To Pay For It.” In Newsweek, Helen Boucher, a physician at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and director of its infectious disease fellowship and heart transplant programs discusses drug resistance to antibiotics. She says “doctors have no drugs to give their patients for what once were treatable infections but are now life-threatening” because “nobody’s lining up to pay for it. Sales wouldn’t bring in enough to justify the cost. We’re seeing existing antibiotics manufacturers at or near bankruptcy, and small biotech companies are struggling.” (Meanwhile, a new study published in The Lancet suggests giving women antibiotics after childbirth can cut the rate of infections by half.)
Gilead Will Donate HIV Medication For 200,000 Patients Annually. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that Gilead has agreed to donate HIV medication for up to 200,000 people each year for up to 11 years. Truvada is used to reduce the risk of HIV infection.
$8.5 Billion Investment In New Cancer Treatment. According to Business Insider (subscription required), “companies have poured $8.5 billion into creating a new version of a cutting-edge, highly personalized cancer treatment.”
New Study Will Investigate Treatment That Could Stop Progression Of Huntington’s Disease. NPR reports scientists soon will launch a “major study” on a drug that may be able to “silence the gene that causes a devastating illness called Huntington's disease.” The development “follows the discovery that the experimental drug reduced levels of the damaged protein that causes this mind-robbing ailment.”
Uterine Fibroid Treatment “A Step Closer” To Approval. According to FierceBiotech, “A phase 3 trial of Myovant Sciences’ uterine fibroid drug relugolix has hit its primary endpoint, moving the Roivant unit a step closer to a planned filing for approval. The drug comfortably beat placebo against a slew of efficacy endpoints and posted comparable safety and tolerability to the control.”
FDA Approves New Treatment For Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Reuters reports the Food and Drug Administration had approved a treatment using its drugs Venclexta plus Gazyva for people with previously untreated chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Pfizer Treatment For Atopic Dermatitis Shows Promise In Late-Stage Trial. Reuters also reports Pfizer’s new treatment for atopic dermatitis, a chronic skin disease characterized by inflammation of the skin and skin barrier defects, “achieved statistically significant improvement in clearing the skin” in a late-stage study that tested the drug in patients aged 12 and older with moderate to severe forms of the disease.
Google Parent Company Exploring Treatment For Heart Disease. According to CNBC, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is “pouring money into life sciences research through its venture investing arm GV and through Verily, its experimental health-technology division” in order to “work with a start-up called Verve Therapeutics with an aim to reduce people’s risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.” Verve is developing “an injectable treatment so millions of people no longer have to rely on a daily regimen of pills.”
CMS Goes After Pharmacy Benefit Manager Spread Pricing. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid this week released guidance on pharmacy benefit managers’ use of spread pricing. As ModernHealthcare explains, the policy is “intended to help states monitor and audit Medicaid and CHIP managed care plans to identify spread pricing when calculating their medical loss ratio (MLR). The guidance clarified that plans must include a PBM rebate in calculating an MLR if the PBM used a subcontractor.” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said she is “concerned that spread pricing is inflating prescription drug costs that are borne by beneficiaries and by taxpayers.” The Columbus Dispatch has more.
QUOTATIONS OF THE WEEK
James Madison Institute VP of Policy Sal J. Nuzzo on how price controls will reduce innovation:
“Since 2000, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry has spent more than half a trillion dollars on R&D. Thanks to these research investments, the FDA has approved dozens of novel medicines for diseases like multiple sclerosis, cancer, and hepatitis C. Investors won't pursue risky projects if they're nearly certain to lose money due to price controls. Look at Europe. Just 40 years ago, the continent created 55 percent of new medicines worldwide. That all changed when European countries began tightening price controls. Today, all European countries combined develop just one in three new drugs.”
Patent attorney and IPWatchdog CEO Gene Quinn, commenting on the same issue:
“In the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, innovation means new drugs, vaccines, treatments, and cures. While we can and should have a conversation about whether it is appropriate to count the advertising costs into the overall amount of money it takes a bio-pharma company to take a drug or biologic to market, no one can seriously argue that it does not require extraordinary investment to go from conception of a lead compound in a laboratory through the byzantine process that is the FDA approval process.”
UPCOMING EVENTS TO WATCH
Tuesday, May 21, 2019, 10:30 a.m.: U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health
Location: 2123 Rayburn House Office Building
Topic: Improving Drug Pricing Transparency and Lowering Prices for American Consumers